Here are the 4 strangest microcars ever made
The 20th century was full of quirky attempts to make ergonomic city cars, and here are the most unusual results
After the Second World War greatly affected the automotive industry, manufacturers turned to building low-cost microcars - a stark contrast to the cars before. These tiny cars were light and economic due to having less bodywork than an ordinary vehicle, making them highly desirable in times when fuel was scarce and in cities with busy streets. There have been many microcars since the 1940s, both good and bad, but none were as strange and interesting as these ones.
Let's start with a microcar that (hopefully) everyone is familiar with. When Reliant bought the Bond Cars brand, they used parts from the Regal and the yet-to-be-released Robin to build the Bug. The finished product was brilliant: a 700cc 4-cylinder engine, producing 30hp, made this 400kg microcar with a low seating position comparable to a go-kart. In 4 years, over 2,000 quirky Bond Bugs were produced, but only about 200 of these remain on the road today.
The unmistakably 80s CityEl microcar originated in Denmark as an alternative to ordinary small commuter cars. A distinctive glass top piece was able to lift on gas struts, allowing access to a cockpit without the need for heavy conventional doors. Weight saving everywhere else led to a paltry kerb weight of 280 kilograms. Less than a horse. Powered by 3 lead acid batteries and a single motor, the CityEl was by no means fast, but this unusual microcar was certainly unique.
Credit: Classic Auto Mall
HM Vehicles Free-Way
One of many abysmal attempts at building a tiny commuter car, the HM Vehicles Free-Way was essentially a fibreglass death trap. It was powered by a single-cylinder lawnmower engine that was able to produce between 12 and 16hp, while an alternative electric model used a 3kW DC motor. The 12-horsepower model managed to return 100 miles per gallon at a steady 40 miles per hour. This was an impressive feat, even for a strange microcar as terrible as the Free-Way.
As a response to the 1973 oil crisis, Sebring-Vanguard made this interesting but poor-quality microcar. At almost 600kg, the 2.5hp motor limited top speed to just 25mph, although later revisions improved this among other minor things. Commuter Vehicles bought the brand and sold the slightly better 'Commuta-Car' until 1982. By then, 4,500 were built, which meant that the Electric Cheese Wedge was America's best-selling EV until the Tesla Model S. Hot stuff.